Popcorn is popping. There’s a hum of voices as you move through the crowd. People are hustling to take a seat while a bright light appears on the big screen ahead. This is the experience of going to the movie theater, an experience that COVID-19 stole from us. Many of us may be thinking, Will I ever go see a movie again? With all of the new streaming platforms and money lost by theaters all over the country, it’s hard to tell what the future holds for theaters and moviegoers.
We have all become accustomed to staying at home, turning on a movie, and settling into our nice, familiar couch. The pandemic has forced us to stay at home, and after this is all over some people will want nothing to do with their homes anymore, while others may want to stick to the routine that we’ve been in for nearly a year now. So what does this mean for movie theatres exactly? Of course, they have lost billions of dollars over the course of the pandemic, but this doesn’t mean they will be gone forever.
Human beings, especially teenagers, crave social interaction in order to grow and develop. After almost a year of being stuck in our houses with no one but our families to socialize with, it’s hard to imagine that when we will be able to go out into the world again, teenagers won’t want to. The experience of seeing a movie is more than just watching. It entails meeting up with friends, getting snacks, chatting before the movie starts, comparing notes after it ends, then possibly continuing the outing by going out to eat and such. Going to the movies is an event that makes memories, and that can’t be replaced or forgotten.
In comparison to going out to see a movie, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us various new options of entertainment that have skyrocketed in popularity. For example, Disney + announced that the platform now has over 54 million subscribers, largely because of the pandemic and people staying at home. Although streaming companies such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, HBO Max and more expect subscription numbers to drop once we are out of quarantine, they will still have more members than they started with.
What are the long term effects that the pandemic will have on movies coming out in theaters? 2019 was one of the best years in movie theater history with over $24 billion in ticket sales made in Hollywood alone. In contrast, the United States box office was at its worst financially in 2020. Many movies had to stop filming in the wake of COVID-19, and many were postponed until later dates or even cancelled for safety reasons. This means that when we are out of lockdown and it is completely safe for companies to start filming movies again, there will be a substantial amount of entertainment that will be set to premiere around the same time. This is good news for theaters because with movies competing for slots in the theater circuit, theatres will have no problem keeping the entertainment flowing throughout their walls.
With all factors considered, streaming, box office numbers, the need for socialization, and the routine of staying at home, the future of movies in theaters all depends on the actions of the people. So now the question is, once the pandemic is over, will you go out to the movies to help movie theaters survive?